Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover
Young & Healthy has spent the last several years teaching the community about ACEs – Adverse Childhood Experiences, and how these very stressful events in childhood can affect our brains and bodies in dramatic ways. Exposure to child abuse, substance abuse, family violence, just to name a few, alter the way we learn, emote and process stress. Sometimes I think we make assumptions about what someone with a high ACE score might look like – bedraggled, angry, uncooperative. Sometimes we would be right, but lots of times, we’d be wrong.
People are very good at hiding their pain. Sofia, a sweet, nicely dressed (ironed jeans & ironed t-shirt) young woman, arrived at our office with her adorable little boy. He was shy, hiding behind his mom, with a mop of curls that made you want to reach over and tousle them. Talking with Sofia, I learned that she was here to get help with her taxes. She said the DV shelter had sent her. Young & Healthy is more than happy to help them with their taxes or anything else they need. I made cheery conversation and got the little guy a teddy bear. I was smiling and hopefully helpful, but my heart was breaking.
When she said a DV shelter sent her, short for Domestic Violence, my heart sank and a lump appeared in my throat. Racing through my mind were all the statistics I knew – it takes an average of 18 attempts before a woman successfully escapes a violent partner and they are in escalating danger with each attempt to leave. I also knew with devastating clarity the damage domestic violence was doing to this darling little boy and his still growing brain,
And yet, here they were, safe in a shelter getting necessary help and resources. And here we were, able to deliver some of those resources. These moments are reminders to us all, you never really know what burdens people carry. You just can’t tell by outward appearances.
But what we do know is that kindness and compassion go a long way.
It is a gift we all have to give.
Here to Serve When Most Needed
During the pandemic, Young & Healthy had a mother reach out asking if we had any literature on grief that could help a family cope with the loss of a family member. The mother seemed desperate and she explained that she needed literature specifically focused toward a five-year-old child. The woman’s husband had been admitted to the hospital with serious COVID-19 symptoms and subsequently passed away at the hospital. She needed to tell her son what had happened but was terrified of not being able to help him cope with the loss and this life-changing news. This particular family trusted Young & Healthy because they have been long-time clients.
A member of our care team asked our Executive Director if she had any literature that could help this family through their grieving process after losing their family patriarch. Mary quickly researched some relevant book titles and ordered them immediately. Within three days, Young & Healthy was able to deliver to the mom a handful of grief and loss literature geared toward children and adults along with a box of cleaning supplies and toiletries. The family was extremely grateful for the assistance and compassion we provided them. Young & Healthy was more than happy to assist this family in dealing with their very sad loss.
Two Doctors, One Family
When we speak about Young & Healthy, we often talk about serving two constituents: our client families AND our volunteers. Sometimes serving both groups takes interesting and intersecting turns. Our care for children and families is paramount, but we could not offer these services without the time and dedication of our valued community and professional volunteers.
It is not uncommon for teenagers (or their moms) to reach out to Young & Healthy when they need to complete volunteer service hours. Years ago, that was the case when we learned of a young PUSD student who wanted to volunteer and was also interested in studying pharmacology. Our volunteer coordinator set up an internship for this student with one of our Young & Healthy pharmacists. Fast forward, after several years of advanced studies, and young Axxel is now a Doctor of Pharmacology! And, YES, he has become a Young & Healthy volunteer!
Siblings often have a healthy competition with each other, and this seems to be true for Axxel and his brother, Jose Antonio. Jose Antonio is now a pediatrician in San Antonio, doing a fellowship in Pulmonology. Jose Antonio has already committed to becoming a Young & Healthy volunteer doctor when he returns to his hometown of Pasadena next year. That’s TWO Dr. Palomares’ and one very dedicated family! We could not be more proud to welcome them as part of the Young & Healthy team.
When Expertise Can Change a Life
Maggie, a forty-year-old mom, came to Young & Healthy seeking help with insurance for herself and her son, Jason. Maggie had learned the hard way how the lack of health insurance can impact her family. Earlier in the year, Maggie needed emergency surgery and without the benefit of insurance, she owed the hospital over $85,000. Wow! Most of us don’t have that kind of emergency cash.
Luckily, Maggie came to Young & Healthy for some help. Our staff happens to be aware of a little-known fact about Medi-Cal. A person can apply retroactively for Medi-Cal and it will cover prior medical services rendered during the previous 12 months. Maggie walked out of our office with health insurance for both herself and her son, as well as freedom from an $85,000 debt. Young & Healthy could practically hear her sigh of relief for blocks away.
Tax Relief Can Be a HUGE Relief
Jasmine has two darling kids, Josephina and Geraldo. Her kids are her most precious assets, but unfortunately those assets don’t pay the back rent or fix the family car. Most of the free tax preparation sites in our area were completely full when Jasmine tried to take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit that she learned she was probably due. She had been on a waiting list for more than two months to get an appointment for assistance in filing her taxes. Then she heard that Young & Healthy was a new provider of tax preparation services and called right away. Our staff was able to get her an appointment within the week and before she knew it, a much-needed tax refund was on the way.
Young & Healthy understands that there is a direct connection between income and health. Improving someone’s ability to obtain a tax refund that is rightfully theirs can change their family’s well-being, beyond paying the rent and getting their car fixed. We are grateful to be a part of a tax preparation program that can help promote economic health and protect physical and emotional health too.